I spent last Christmas on my own at my house. Friends had generously offered me multiple invitations, but the thought of feeling like a third wheel was a little overwhelming. While I have friends that are very much like family to me—spending the holidays with a happy couple or family has sometimes in the past left me walking away realizing with a deeper clarity than I would have liked exactly what I do NOT have. And also, I am quite certain I wouldn’t have been the best person to be around even on the best day at that time. It was tough all the way around.
So I suffered through the weeks leading up to Christmas, stayed away from the general public as much as possible, watched DVDs almost constantly to avoid holiday programming and hunkered down to wish it all away. On Christmas Eve, I went to bed early, but still managed to sleep through most of Christmas day, which had been my plan. Go to sleep, wake up, and it’s not a holiday season anymore. It is just another Friday.
A dear friend, who is like my second mother—well she isn’t “like”—she IS my second mother—told me on this day last year that she believed everything could turn around for me, and that this time next year the world was going to look very different. You just never know, she said.
I remember feeling sad when she said that because I was certain of so many things about my future. And I was certain she was wrong.
What is amazing about life is that there is no certainty. That is not always a good thing. We lose loved ones in the moment it takes to catch a breath…and the only certainty is that there was no time for a goodbye and they are never coming back. But the other side of the coin is that no matter how much all signs, occurrences, and logical assumptions line up—a total curveball flies into your life and everything becomes new and the path you are on was one you never could have imagined.
Stepping back, it isn’t exactly a wild curveball from nowhere. One thing leads to another in a chain of events that makes something bigger happen. But the steps are so small leading to it, and there are so many in the chain that it seems to come out of nowhere.
For more years than I can count, I wanted to be a published writer. And this year, after finding a way to pour some of my past pain onto a page, it happened. And that pain then became fuel for something that made a difference in my life—healing me in more ways than one. And then, I found and let love into my life again, which, I am here to tell you, were words I never saw myself writing, thinking or saying again (or for at least good 30 years from now).
Some of it seemed to come out of nowhere. But, the truth is, all the things that happened this year were the end result of events and choices that I couldn’t have planned better.
I brought my dog Bear into my life last January, and he became not just a pet, but a motivating being that made my heart open before all the past wounds closed it completely.
I lost my job, which devastated me, but also made me realize how many hours, days and weeks I had spent working over the last decade. Ridiculous amounts of time gone—never to be retrieved. While some of it was worth it and reasonable for my career, a great deal of it was hiding from life, and letting work be my safe place instead of how I pay the rent.
When looking back on the terrible betrayal and heartbreak I had suffered in 2008, I saw at first only that I attracted horrible people into my life, that I was not worth better, that I had failed somehow. But through all the other realizations, through writing, through friends and through time…I slowly began to understand my value—my worth.
And I found love again because I opened myself to it, and because the person I love helped me take the last steps across that bridge towards trusting myself—and someone else.
It was all a process. A crazy, painful, beautiful process. Planned and unplanned, chaotic and precise.
And more than anything today, a year later, I know this much to be true…
You never know.